Timo-Peniche-102011Kelly

Timo-Peniche-102011Kelly

The 11-time champ surely hasn't quit his major sponsor of 23 years? Photo: Timo

As reported on the ASP website and on Kelly's Facebook page this morning, rumours that Kelly has parted ways with his major sponsor of 23 years are all the talk this morning. But it is of course April Fools today and despite other media outlets claiming this is for real, the pure coincidence of the 11-time champ announcing this today is unlikely to dupe many people. Or has the renowned mind-meddler Kelly Slater gone the double bluff in an inspired PR stunt?

Kelly's departure from Quiksilver is supposedly due to him not being happy about him earning less than Dane Reynolds and John John Florence, as well as his desire to launch his own signature brand (which he's previously already tried to do in the form of VSTR and his own clothing line). Yet everyone knows that another superfluous fashion label is the last thing the surf industry or world needs right now.

With Kelly being somewhat criticised by Australians for speaking out of turn and hogging the media limelight on the Gold Coast during the Quik Pro, it will be interesting to see whether this latest publicity stunt earns the 11-time champ any further favours.

The ASP writes:

In a move tantamount to Michael Jordan splitting with Nike or David Beckham leaving Adidas, Kelly Slater has announced he parted ways with Quiksilver, his sponsor of 23 years.

Slater signed with Quiksilver in 1990 at the age of 18, just before winning the US$100,000 Body Glove Surfbout at Lower Trestles in a performance that put the surf world on notice. The first of his 11 ASP World Titles came just two years later, at the age of 20.

Here is Slater's open letter on the move:

There is little I can say that would give the credit due or cover the debt of gratitude I feel on a personal and professional level to Quiksilver. As a brand and on a human level, they have been a part of my life, career, and personal relationships for more than 23 years now, well over half my life. They've supported me through good times and bad, personal hardships and competitive triumphs, and never wavered in backing my choices and desires in all that time. Under the tutelage of Bob McKnight, Bruce Raymond, Alan Green, Pierre Agnes and Danny Kwock (and many others), Quiksilver signed me to a 100% sponsorship deal in 1990, finishing up my amateur career and guiding me into my professional life and adulthood.

Having their support group around the world allowed me to create a life I only dreamt of as a child...making a documentary (Kelly Slater In Black and White) about the start of my professional career, going on boat trips and small charter planes to remote locations I'd likely never see, taking long car rides and promo tours to places I'd otherwise never visit, doing film trips to tropical islands few people have ever seen, etc. There could have been no better partner for me to have than Quiksilver.

The memories I have of joining the team and becoming like brothers with my heroes and team riders Tom Carroll and Ross Clarke-Jones and making lifelong friendships with Stephen Bell and others has fulfilled my life exponentially. There aren't enough pages or words to express my heartfelt thanks and appreciation for the experiences that have come from this relationship we've shared together. So it is with a heavy heart and a lifetime of positive memories that I move in a new chapter of my life.

As I contemplate the amazing opportunities I've had in life and the amount of good fortune I've encountered along the way, I’m excited to announce today that I’m embarking on a new journey. For years I've dreamt of developing a brand that combines my love of clean living, responsibility and style. The inspiration for this brand comes from the people and cultures I encounter in my constant global travels and this is my opportunity to build something the way I have always wanted to.

So I am excited to tell you that I’ve chosen The Kering Group as a partner. They share my values and have the ability to support me in all of my endeavors. I look forward to exploring all of the new opportunities this partnership will provide, but this hasn't happened by chance, nor has it happened without an incredible amount of work by a few key individuals. As I embark on this new journey, I am sticking to my gut instincts and the belief that your dreams can become reality with the right intentions. I look forward to sharing more about it soon...

- Kelly

Bob McKnight, Founder and Executive Chairman of Quiksilver, had the following to say:

"Kelly has been a part of the Quiksilver family for over 20 years. It’s been an incredible journey watching him grow from a young surfer with great potential, to the 11-time World Champion he is today. We wish Kelly all the best as he enters this next phase of his career."